Building Daddy Confidence with Infants

Father shopping with babies

Grocery shopping with a baby is a great way to build Daddy confidence.

On Saturday my husband saw two female friends who recently had babies. Both of them had left their children at home with the fathers, very happy to have a day’s vacation. From the brief conversations he had with them, they seemed giddy. He told me about this because he wants me to tell other fathers that they may not realize how much their wives need the break.

Staying home alone with the baby is one thing, but going to a public place alone with an infant is another entirely. My husband says this is where he gained his confidence as a new parent. So, with my husband’s advice over the shoulder, I want to share his guide to building Daddy confidence by taking the baby grocery shopping.

Daddy’s on Display

In our family, my husband has always been the grocery shopper, even before we had children. When our daughter was about six weeks old, he started taking her with him to the store. When our son was born three years later, he took both children with him.

Going to the store is different than walking to the park or going to a friend’s house. When you are shopping, you have to multi-task. If you come home with the goods and you keep the baby reasonably happy, you have accomplished a great feat.

According to my husband, grocery shopping is a high-profile activity for a father because the store is full of women watching. It has the potential to go very badly—at least it feels like it has that potential. Women often spoke to him. Having children with him was an invitation to conversation. If things were going well, they often said, “What a good father.” If the baby was crying, they would say, “What a good sport.”

What to Take

Picking up heavy things and putting them into the cart was harder with a sling, so he usually used a grocery cart with an attached baby seat. This gave him greater mobility to reach and lift. He always had the sling with him, though. If the baby needed comfort from the high stimulation of bright lights, he would put the baby in a sling—which usually led to a nap. Once he was taking both a toddler and an infant, he did keep the baby in a sling. He fondly remembers the baby seat in the shopping cart, though, having a little face staring up at him as he pushed through the store.

Baby Steps for New Parents

It’s not until you have a break from it that you realize how intense early parenting is.

It is hard to start going out alone together when your baby is very young, but, if you don’t try when they are babies, it will be harder later. You learn a lot, and they learn what behavior is expected of them in public.

“The odds are slightly stacked against you,” my husband says. “You have no breasts. You can’t hand the baby off. You have to figure out how to comfort your baby.”

Having successfully accomplished the grocery shopping week after week, it gave him more confidence going forward that he was capable of being a good parent.

Image © Pavel Losevsky |

No father would stack the kids in the cart with the groceries. My husband wants you to know that he didn’t do that. Blame stock photos!

Infant Massage: Daddy Bonding Time

Baby getting infant massageBreastfeeding is more than a nutritional transaction. Breastfeeding is a bonding experience for mother and child.

Fathers need their bonding time with babies as well. In my family, that time was bath and massage time. After my husband would give our babies an evening bath, I would breastfeed the baby then he would give the clean, tired, well-fed baby a massage. Baby massage is a perfect activity for fathers.

Benefits of Infant Massage

  • Calming, leading to better sleep
  • Touching, leading to better bonding
  • Soothing, relieving colic


When? Choose an unhurried time when both you and your baby can relax. Make sure she isn’t hungry or restless. We found after bath a great time for massage.

Where? Both you and your baby should be comfortable. Since he will be stripped down to his diaper or without any diaper at all, make sure the room is warm enough. Lay a towel, blanket, or sheepie down in front of you on a bed or on the floor (if it isn’t too hard). Just make sure you can reach the baby easily. My husband always did massage on the bed because our babies were so relaxed afterward that they often fell asleep for the evening.

Gaia natural baby massage oilWhat oil? There are so many choices. Just be sure that you test whatever oil or product you choose on a small patch of the baby’s skin to see whether your baby has any sensitivities. It’s much better to check first than to find your baby all pink and blotchy because of allergies. I liked the smell of apricot oil on the baby. also sells a mineral oil-free baby massage oil from Gaia Natural Baby.

What to do? This is the heart of the matter, and this is where I am going to send you to the experts. You don’t want to be to vigorous with your massage, and there are specific techniques that are helpful with, for example, digestion. There are a lot of books and videos on baby massage, but I see no particular reason to part from the classics.

Frédérick Leboyer, Loving Hands: The Traditional Indian Art of Baby Massage (1976). The first and by far most influential birth and baby book I ever read was Leboyer’s Birth Without Violence. Loving Hands continues that gentle approach to parenting to encourage loving touch. Now available in paperback as Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage.

Vimala Schneider McClure, Infant Massage (1978). Another classic drawn from experience with south Asian massage has been revised over the past 30 years and is still in print. The author is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and revisions of her book have been influenced by the experiences of infant massage teachers.

To all of the fathers ready to bond with your babies, I wish you the best on your baby massage adventure. It’s a beautiful time to spend with a baby.

Image © Dmitry Naumov |